U.S. Attorney James Jacks
Attorney General Eric Holder has awarded the Justice Department’s
second-highest honor to the team of prosecutors and investigators that put
away the Holy Land Foundation terrorist front group and its leaders.
The Dallas-based team received the Attorney General’s Award for
Distinguished Service during a Justice Department awards ceremony in
Washington D.C. last month.
Holy Land and five of its founders were convicted in 2008 of funneling more
than $12 million raised in the U.S. to Hamas, a federally designated
terrorist organization. The top two leaders of the defunct charity each
received 65-year prison sentences.
The case, which resulted in convictions on all 108 felony counts, is
considered the largest terrorism financing investigation in U.S. history.
While billed as the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., Holy Land “was
actually the U.S.-based fund-raising arm of the terrorist group Hamas,” the
Justice Department said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations was an outspoken critic of the
government’s prosecution of the Holy Land defendants. The Washington-based
Muslim group argued that prosecutors were trying to railroad an innocent
“The team demonstrated unparalleled dedication and teamwork for more than
eight years,” the department said in a
press release. “The team’s ability resulted in the unraveling of an
international conspiracy and one of the most successful terrorism financing
prosecutions in the department’s history.”
Holder presented the award to lead U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks, among
several others, at the 58th Annual Attorney General Awards Ceremony.
“They have safeguarded our homeland,” Holder said in a speech.
Jacks listed CAIR as an unindicted co-conspirator in the criminal scheme to
finance terrorism inside America.
“CAIR has been identified by the government at trial as a participant in an
ongoing and ultimately unlawful conspiracy to support a designated terrorist
organization, a conspiracy from which CAIR never withdrew,” Jacks said in
The U.S. District Court in Dallas, where Holy Land was based, found “ample
evidence” linking CAIR to the conspiracy and is expected to unseal the
dossier in coming weeks.
Holder also recognized FBI Special Agents Lara L. Burns, who investigated
Holy Land out of the bureau’s Dallas field office. Burns testified at trial
that CAIR is a “front group for Hamas.”
Evidence uncovered in the Holy Land case prompted the FBI to sever ties with
CAIR until it can demonstrate it is not a terrorist front group.
“Until we can resolve whether there continues to be a connection between
CAIR or its executives and Hamas, the FBI does not view CAIR as an
appropriate liaison partner,” advised assistant FBI Director Richard Powers
in a 2009 letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The service award is the Justice Department’s second-highest award for
Other members of the Holy Land prosecution team who received the award
included: Nathan Garrett, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney; from the National
Security Division (NSD) Counterterrorism Section, Barry Jonas, trial
attorney; and Laura B. Shuey, paralegal specialist; from the NSD Office of
Intelligence, Julie L. Hamilton, former attorney-adviser; and Heidi P.
Bauer, attorney-adviser; from the Civil Division Federal Programs Branch,
Elizabeth J. Shapiro, deputy branch director; from the FBI’s Dallas Field
Office, James S. Lewis, supervisory special agent; Robert Miranda, Carrie
C. Ward, and David Kamel; and Atef A. Shafik, language specialist; from the
FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, Anne E. Armstrong, financial analyst; and
from the DOD Department of the Army, Task Force Officer Eric Michael Wood.
“It is my pleasure to congratulate this year’s Attorney General Award
winners and to recognize their extraordinary contributions,” Holder said.
“Not only is their service to our nation inspiring, it is strengthening the
work of the Justice Department at every level and making a powerful
difference for people across our country, and far beyond. This year’s
awardees exemplify the Department’s finest traditions, and I am privileged,
and grateful, to count them as colleagues.”
Holder added: “Each of this year’s award recipients should take great pride
in the fact that their efforts have made a positive and lasting impact on
the citizens we serve and will leave an enduring imprint on the Department¹s
work for years to come.”